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Charles Barbier: Social Factors

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For years, Baton Rouge-area artist Charles Barbier has made more or less realistic paintings that dealt with topics ranging from war and social issues to art and art history. Recent events have given him a lot to think about, and while some of his new canvases inspired by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina feature dramatic slices of life rendered in the rugged social realist style that we expect from this artist, there are also some surprises in the form of bolder, more colorful and dreamlike images. While these, too, might be issue-oriented, they are generally more mysterious and otherworldly. As laden with symbolism as oversized tarot cards, Barbier's new paintings suggest that, in a world turned upside down and where dreams make as much sense as the nightly news, reality is, now more than ever, a matter of interpretation. -- Eric D. Bookhardt

Through October

LeMieux Galleries, 332 Julia St., 522-5988; www.lemieuxgalleries.com

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